October 23, 1990
Opinion No. 90/24
You state that you preside over juvenile delinquency and dependency cases in your circuit. You are commonly identified as being involved in programs for the betterment of children.
A coalition of child welfare agencies have asked you to assist in publicly supporting the creation of a special taxing district for child welfare under the provisions of Chapter 125, Part V, Florida Statutes. Adoption of this law would provide authority for levying ad valorem taxes to support the project. You wish to know what activities you can participate in under Canon 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Eight committee members believe that you can publicly support the passage of this law, however, all responding members also believe you should avoid allowing others the usage of the influence of your office for the fund raising aspect of the campaign. One committee member made the point that you should control your own efforts to achieve passage of the measure as opposed to joining in newspaper advertisements. It is fair to say that the committee is not entirely comfortable with the role of a judge as public advocate for passage of local legislation of this sort. There is no specific Canon prohibiting such conduct so long as you are circumspect in your activities.
The committee is expressly charged with rendering advisory opinions interpreting the application of the Code of Judicial Conduct to specific circumstances confronting or affecting a judge or judicial candidate. Its opinions are advisory to the inquiring party, to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and to the judiciary at large. Conduct that is consistent with an advisory opinion issued by the committee may be evidence of good faith on the part of the judge, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission is not bound by the interpretive opinions issued by the committee. Petition of the Committee on Standards of Conduct for Judges 327 So2d 5 (Fla. 1976).
With regards, I remain
Yours very truly,
Oliver L. Green, Chairman
Committee on Standards of Conduct Governing Judges
cc: All Committee Members
Participating Members: Judges Green, Tolton, Goldstein, Booth, Doughtie,Frank, Dell and Clarke, Esquire.
All reference to the inquiring judge is deleted from the copies sent to the following individuals.
Mr. Sid White, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Florida
Judson Orrick, Managing Editor, The Florida Bar Journal
Brooke S. Kennerly, Executive Director, Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Hon. Walter K. Stapleton, Chairman, Ethics Advisory Panel of the Judicial Conference of the United States .
Deborah Solomon, American Judicature Society
Ms. Jean Underhill, Librarian, Broward County Law Library
Mr. Robert Wallace, Librarian, Dade County Law Library
Mr. Brian Polley, Librarian, Supreme Court of Florida
Mr. Richard Kuhn, Court Administrator, Lee County
Hon. Thomas H . Barkdull , Jr ., Third District Court of Appeal
Lynda Glyman, Center for Professional Responsibility, American Bar Association